PM to recommend posthumous pardon for gay man
Published Sunday, February 28, 2016 6:07PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 28, 2016 7:47PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to recommend that a pardon be granted posthumously one of the last men convicted under Canada's anti-homosexuality laws in the 1960s.
Everett Klippert was convicted twice before homosexuality was legalized in 1969.
The native of Kindersley, Sask., spent four years in prison after his first conviction in Calgary, and another conviction in 1965 in Hay River, N.W.T landed him in jail for another three years.
During the second case, the Crown applied to have him labelled a dangerous offender to keep him in prison for life.
A series of appeals ultimately saw Klippert lose a fight over the designation in the Supreme Court of Canada.
"We've been treating these people like criminals. I do not think they are criminal, although the law, at present time, says they are," Klippert's defence lawyer said at the time.
Klippert was released from prison in 1972 and died in 1996 at the age of 69.
In a statement, a spokesman for the prime minister told CTV News on Sunday that Trudeau planned to grant Klippert a pardon because the case was "instrumental" in the government's decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults.
Trudeau's press secretary Cameron Ahmad said in the statement that Trudeau intends to grant the pardon posthumously under the authority of the "royal prerogative of mercy," which is the ancient right of the British monarch to grant mercy and is exercised by the governor general in Canada.
The Liberal government also plans to review the cases of gay men who were convicted of charges of "gross indecency" and "buggery," and to see if others warrant a pardon.
"As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation," Ahmad said in the statement.
Further details about the review are expected to be released in the coming days.
"We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act, but the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains."
In 1967, Trudeau's father Pierre, who was serving as the minister of justice under Lester B. Pearson, famously called for changes to the Criminal Code.
"Remember that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation," he said.
Meanwhile, Klippert's life and his battles with the law have become the subject of a play by Calgary's only queer theatre company.
"Knowing that somebody that was vilified for such a long time is now about to pardoned, it's one of those resilience stories that pops up and says, 'This is the start of a new generation of understanding," Jonathan Brower, the co-founder of the Third Street Theatre told CTV Calgary.
With a report from CTV Calgary's Alesia Fieldberg and files from The Canadian Press